Is India’s National Anthem and the National Song the same?

Find out the relevance, code of conduct, and the history of the national anthem and the national song of India.

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Jitesh Surjiani | 13 May '22

Have you ever been caught off-guard when asked to sing the national song and ended up reciting Jana Gana Mana? If yes, you are not alone. India, like many other countries, has a National Anthem and a National Song and many Indians yet cannot identify the subtleties of each.

Key Differences between the National Anthem and National Song

The National Anthem and the National Song have their own relevance and serve different purposes. Both the terms "national anthem" and "national song" relate to patriotic songs that describe the country's culture and pride. However, these terms are often used interchangeably and incorrectly. National anthems are formally adopted by countries, whereas national songs are formally adopted by countries only on a case-by-case basis. In countries that do not have a separate national anthem and song, a national anthem is also referred to as a national song. Let’s understand the key differences between both for India.


A National Anthem is a musical composition that defines a country’s history, tradition, and struggles. The National Anthem of India is “Jana Gana Mana” composed by Rabindranath Tagore. It is formally recognized and adopted by the Indian government often to be sung on ceremonial occasions. It conveys the spirit of pluralism and ‘Unity in Diversity’, which lies at the core of India’s cultural heritage.

A National Song is a patriotic hymn adopted by the government to be sung on select public or state occasions. The National Song of India is “Vande Mataram” composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. It is an ode to the Motherland that conveys "I praise to motherland”.

Code of Conduct

Honouring the National anthem is one of the fundamental duties of a citizen of India as listed in Article 51A of the Constitution of India. It requires the audience to give the National Anthem a standing ovation and sing along with it, if possible. The Parliament of India can and has exercised its right to make the singing of the National Anthem mandatory on select occasions. The approximate duration of the full version of National Anthem of India is 52 seconds. However, a shortened version consisting of the first and last lines takes about 20 seconds and is also played occasionally.

The National Song does not have constitutional privileges and honoring it is not a fundamental duty of a citizen of India. The National Song is held in equal reverence to the national anthem but it is not mandatory to sing it at any given occasion. A circumstantial specification for the rendition of Vande Mataram is 65 seconds.


Jana Gana Mana was originally composed as Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore. It was first publicly sung on 27 December 27, 1911, at the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress. The first of the five verses of this composition were adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India as the National Anthem on January 24, 1950.

Vande Mataram is a poem written in Bengali by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the 1870s, which was included in his Bengali novel Anandamath published in 1882. The poem was first sung by Rabindranath Tagore in the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. The first two verses of the song were adopted as the National Song of India in October 1937 by the Congress Working Committee. On 24 January 1950, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted "Vande Mataram" as a national song. However, the Constitution of India does not have any mention of "national song".

It played a vital role in the Indian independence movement and became a popular marching song for political activism and the Indian freedom movement in 1905.


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Jitesh Surjiani

Jitesh Surjiani

Jitesh Surjiani is passionate about progressive change for India and its citizens. He writes about issues that are roadblocks in improving quality of life and interpersonal interactions as well as areas of public governance that fall short in intent and action.

Is India’s National Anthem and the National Song the same? Is India’s National Anthem and the National Song the same?
Is India’s National Anthem and the National Song the same?
Is India’s National Anthem and the National Song the same? 0 min left

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